IMDb > The Maltese Falcon (1931)
The Maltese Falcon
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The Maltese Falcon (1931) More at IMDbPro »


Overview

User Rating:
7.5/10   1,891 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Dashiell Hammett (based on the novel by)
Maude Fulton (screen play & dialogue) ...
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Contact:
View company contact information for The Maltese Falcon on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
13 June 1931 (USA) See more »
Plot:
A lovely dame with dangerous lies employs the services of a private detective, who is quickly caught up in the mystery and intrigue of a statuette known as the Maltese Falcon. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Hollywood's first – and far from negligible – crack at The Maltese Falcon See more (33 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Bebe Daniels ... Ruth Wonderly

Ricardo Cortez ... Sam Spade
Dudley Digges ... Casper Gutman
Una Merkel ... Effie Perine
Robert Elliott ... Detective Lt. Dundy

Thelma Todd ... Iva Archer
Otto Matieson ... Dr. Joel Cairo
Walter Long ... Miles Archer

Dwight Frye ... Wilmer Cook
J. Farrell MacDonald ... Det. Sgt. Tom Polhouse
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Agostino Borgato ... Capt. John Jacobi (uncredited)
Tiny Jones ... Jailbird Seeking Cigarette (uncredited)
Cliff Saum ... Baggage Clerk (uncredited)
Morgan Wallace ... District Attorney (uncredited)
Lucille Ward ... Sarah - Prison Matron (uncredited)
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Directed by
Roy Del Ruth 
 
Writing credits
Dashiell Hammett (based on the novel by)

Maude Fulton (screen play & dialogue) &
Brown Holmes (screen play & dialogue)

Lucien Hubbard  uncredited

Cinematography by
William Rees (photography)
 
Film Editing by
George Marks (edited by)
 
Art Direction by
Robert M. Haas  (as Robert Haas)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Palmer Belmont .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Harry Davis .... second camera (uncredited)
Mac Julian .... still photographer (uncredited)
Frederick E. West .... assistant camera (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Earl Luick .... wardrobe
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Leo F. Forbstein .... conductor: Vitaphone Orchestra
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Dangerous Female" - USA (TV title)
See more »
Runtime:
80 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Certification:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films 1931-1940 credits the uncredited role of the District Attorney to Oscar Apfel. This is incorrect; the role is played by an unmistakable Morgan Wallace as correctly listed on IMDb.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: In the second-to-last scene, as Spade identifies killers to the police, his robe goes from being relatively neat to sloppy.See more »
Quotes:
[first lines]
Sam Spade:Bye-bye, honey. I'll see you later... Effie!
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Movie Connections:
Referenced in Footsteps in the Dark (1941)See more »

FAQ

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41 out of 43 people found the following review useful.
Hollywood's first – and far from negligible – crack at The Maltese Falcon, 14 December 2002
Author: bmacv from Western New York

Over the years, the version of The Maltese Falcon released in 1941 has accrued an enviable reputation: As an opening salvo in the film noir cycle, as Humphrey Bogart's first big starring vehicle and John Huston's directorial debut, and as a favorite example of the pleasures to be found in `old' black-and-white movies. But it was the third crack that Warner Brothers took at Dashiell Hammett's breakthrough novel. Probably best forgotten is the 1936 Satan Met A Lady, where a bejewelled ram's horn subbed for the black bird; even Bette Davis couldn't salvage the movie. But this first filming (later retitled Dangerous Female), made the year after the novel's release – in the technical infancy of the sound era – retains enough punch and flavor to give the formidable forties version a run for its money.

Starring as Sam Spade and Miss Wonderly (who never becomes Brigid O'Shaughnessey) are Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels, the talkies' first immortal guy/gal team. And joining them is the familiar ensemble of grotesques: As `Dr.' Joel Cairo, Otto Mathiessen; as Casper Gutman, Dudley Digges (who, lacking Sidney Greenstreet's girth, is never called The Fat Man); and as Wilmer the gunsel, gimlet-eyed Dwight Frye, familiar from the Dracula and Frankenstein franchises. And while Huston's cast in each instance has the edge, it's not by much – these pioneering hams have a field day.

Huston trusted Hammett enough to preserve more of his astringent dialogue intact, but Dangerous Woman shows surprising fidelity to the book. The subplot about Spade's affair with his slain partner's wife Iva Archer stays prominent, and the merry widow is played by Thelma Todd (herself later to fall victim in one of Hollywood's most notorious unsolved murders). Owing to less prudish times, before the Hayes Office tried to make sex un-American, the scene is kept where Spade, in his quest for a palmed $1000 bill, makes Wonderly strip naked (though left largely off-screen). And in calling Wilmer Gutman's `boyfriend,' Spade makes a mite more explicit their old-queen/rough-trade dynamic.

Roy del Ruth, who directed, was an old newspaper man who came to Hollywood in the silent era, racking up a workmanlike list of credits (in 1949, he would return to San Francisco locales for the unusual noir Red Light). He adds some deft touches, as when, after Spade departs with her bankroll, Wonderly blithely extracts a fat wad of bills from her stocking. Much of what he might be credited for, however, may be inadvertent. Since the novel was published and the movie made on that critical cusp between the Roaring Twenties and Old Man Depression, an authentic period tang asserts itself – Daniels' marcelled hair, for instance (not to mention the Vienna-born Cortez' being palmed off as a Latin lover).

The movie deviates from the novel in ending with a scene in the women's house of detention that manages to be simultaneously sassy and poignant. Dangerous Female offers an instructive lesson in how the various versions, with their differing tones and emphases, shed their own light and shadow on a classic American crime novel.

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